Again Even More Notes on “Civilizations of the Ancient Near East

Witchcraft, Magic, and Divination in Canaan and Ancient Israel by Jean-Michel de Tarragon

  • Ancient Semitic world had positive attitude to these things by conviction.
  • Divination
    • Little furnished documentation about divination compared to Hittite, Egypt, and Mesopotamia.
    • Many means of divination
      • Prophetic/priestly oracles, spirits, dream, lots, astrology, observation of entrails, birds, oil and water, smoke directions.
    • Best option for seeing HB and divination is through the recent books published by OUP.
    • Consulting God through urim and thummim (Ex. 28:15-30; Lev. 8:8)
    • Dreams: cf. Deut. 13:1.
      • Prophet are okay; divination practice in an oracle sense is okay.
    • Biblical reference to use of teraphim, cult object and sometime divinatory instruments.
      • Sam. 19:13, Gen. 31:9-35, esp. Ez. 21:21
  • Necromancy
    • “witch of Endor” – 1 Samuel 28:3-25
    • Deut. 18:10-11 has a ban on divination, soothsayer, and all else of the sort
      • This, though, reflects a late, evolved stage of ancient Israel.
      • Lev. 20:27 – sentence for necromancy is death.
      • See also 2 Kings 21:6
        • Manasseh is condemned for divination.
    • We can assume that “during the centuries of its maturation”, namely Israel’s monotheism, “divination continued to be practiced, hence the repeated condemnation registered in the Bible” (2075).
  • Magic
    • Reference to female magician in Ex. 22:18
    • Confusion between divinatory practices and magic (2078)
  • Charms
    • In particular, items of apotropaic significance
      • Such as the Ark, where Philistines were sick (1 Sam. 6)
      • Ketef Hinnom inscriptions from the 7th century
        • With proto-Aaronic benidiction (pg. 2079)
      • Texts and designs at Kuntillet Ajrud
        • “I bless you before YHWH of Samaria and his asherah” (2079).
        • “I  less you before YHWH of Temam and his asherah. May he bless (you) and keep (you)” (2079).
        • Dates the 9th century, maybe the mid 10th century.
      • Amulet for Uriyahu
        • “Blessed by Uriyahu before YHWH, and from his adversaries he saved him by his asherah” (2079).
  • Critique of this entry: it is less about the idea of magic and divination in a Canaanite context; it is very focused, if not more, on magic and divination in the HB. Karel von der Toorn did a great job at doing Canaan broadly, while noting what made each place unique. This article falls into what C. Euhlinger raises a red flag for.



And that should be all of my notes from these volumes.


One thought on “Again Even More Notes on “Civilizations of the Ancient Near East

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s